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Publication details for Professor Nick Ellis

Schepis, D., Purchase, S. & Ellis, N. (2014). Network Position and Identity: A Language-Based Perspective on Strategizing. Industrial Marketing Management 43(4): 582–591.

Author(s) from Durham


This article explores processes of strategizing within business networks by showing how managers employ sensemaking to cope with network paradoxes. It takes the linguistic turn to analyze how participants discursively construct their organizations' identities and positions within a ‘designed’ network context. In doing so, the paper attempts to answer the research question posed so provocatively over a decade ago by Håkansson and Ford (2002): by exploring how companies interact in business networks. Our contribution is to show how firms interact by taking a language-based perspective on strategy to help understand the links between network, organizational and micro-levels of social construction. An in-depth discussion of a case study is presented, with particular emphasis on the identity-constructing processes affecting (and affected by) the positioning and strategizing of various network actors. We conclude by reflecting on the theoretical and practical contributions of our analysis, the latter focusing on tensions in Indigenous business development.